by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          Sept 1, 2017

This summer I began researching lectionaries. A lectionary isRCL resource that recommends scripture readings for worship on any given day or week. Christian lectionaries typically prescribe readings based on the Christian liturgical calendar (ie Christmas readings on Christmas, Easter on Easter, etc.). The most common lectionary used in protestant churches is the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which gained popularity through the late 20th century. The RCL runs on a three-year cycle, meaning that every three years we read the same texts again. If, like me, you’ve been following the RCL for 22 years, that means you read the same texts again, and again, and again, and again….

It gets old.

At least it gets old from a preaching perspective. The Bible is so full of life and vibrancy, with so many amazing (and troubling) stories, that it is a shame to only address the relatively small part of it which makes up any one lectionary. The Bible is so much more than the RCL.

That is why I started researching alternative lectionaries this summer. And that is how I found the African American Lectionary.


When I first experienced the African American Lectionary, I was immediately inspired. I was moved by its Biblical commentary, historical awareness, scholarship, and cultural importance. Having spent most of my Christian experience in a Eurocentric, “white”, context I found its AfroAmerican-centric voice both refreshing and challenging.

Instead of being driven by the abstract Christian people praying together (cropped)liturgical year, it focuses on the life of the Christian community. It connects scripture directly to the experiences of the people in the pews, or on street corners, more than on the hierarchical traditions of the church. This opens up great possibilities for worship. In addition, the fact that it comes directly out of the experiences of the “black church” it addresses issues of social justice and transformation that we in the “mainline church” often find easy to overlook.

For these reasons, I have challenged Brendan and myself to follow the African American Lectionary this year. Now, it is entirely possible that you will not really notice this change in any overt way, because issues of racial and social justice are not new to us. But, hopefully, what you WILL notice is that worship is vibrant, inspiring, and meaningful as we celebrate more fully the breadth of our diverse Christian heritage.

diversityChristianity is not a monolithic faith. There is great breadth to the Christian experience and life. Celebrating worship through the inspiration of the African American Lectionary is just one way this year that we will strive to widen our experience of faith. God is great, and our experience of God (in worship and out) should embrace that.

Follow this link for more information on the African American Lectionary.